He’s trusting in a paper twist of hope:
a bio-reassurance, GP-backed.
The Jack Daniels on the shelf is still unopened.
He eyes the bottle, weighs up its impact.
His sister comes back with his filled prescription.
She waves the box. She’s haloed, heaven-sent
to try his natural sibling resistance.
She fixes orange squash. Now, penitence:
her eyes on him, he gulps the new arrivals,
anticipates resumption of survival.



Weeds are the last plants to parch, the most
determined to find moisture in the grit.

My young man with his shined shoes, he grows weed
grit steady up the side of everything, a creeper

creature finding holds and bedding in. Tobacco-grit
weed-gravel he and I too close

grit skeletons and share water. I don’t want
to garden; it’s too hot for weeds.

Unactioned Emails, Solid Plans

I stop shaving my legs: not feminism
but a jettison of the energy drain. Thank God
my brightly coloured dresses peacock for me.
I run for the toilet at every opportunity, certain
my bladder will rupture. I press tumour-hunter
fingers to my belly but there is only fat,
just as there is only ever dust in the nit comb.
My manager looks at my hands when he says,
last week you looked like you might’ve been doing
better. In team meetings we pretend that I am not
mining deep, miming the full force of my personality.
The unactioned emails in my inbox keep changing.
I’ve produced plans for a project it looks like someone
else will have to complete. They are solid plans.
I don’t remember writing them.
                               Sick leave should be
better than losing the job if not better than keeping it.
In the first weeks my face salt-cracks with every smile.
I sit in the park by the doctors and suncream my neck
and poke at should-have-tried-harders. Forgiveness
is an ongoing project and recovery seeps through
in impatient increments. This weekend I have not kept
myself awake because I might
at some point in the night
need the loo.

Proud and Unsure

Sorting Between Complicity and Tact

Remember how a week after Sadiq Khan 
      broke his fast onstage 
      during a mayoral debate 
you were on a bus trying 
      to explain to a friend why this had made you cry 
and your friend kept saying but you’re not 
      even Muslim 
and you tried to bear in mind that she is not 
      from a culture where food means trust 
      or turns a table into a family which extends to strangers
and you could have told her as I understand it iftar is not only a matter 
      of putting fuel into a body - he was eating with all of us 
and you could have told her he was making family
      from the audience and trusting it would not lose him 
      voters whose support would have been 
      unthinkable a generation ago
and you could have told her you don’t have to love 
      his policies to love that he has a chance at this, 
      that he is not unthinkable 
and you could have told her he looked like hope
      for loved ones exhausted 
      by all the ways they are still unthinkable
and maybe you could even have told her I can hear 
      the undertone of ‘don’t your lot hate his lot?’ 
      in your voice
      and I like you a lot less than I did five minutes ago
but this would have been a nuclear option so 
      you said, the UKIP guy was so narked, 
      it was beautiful 
and she laughed 
and you changed the subject?


Fairy Non-Bio

I won’t see you today.
I’m wearing your favorite top
anyway: an act of aggression
you will never find out about.

I use these small actions to get
through your absence. When
I see you I won’t remember
being angry but I will have left
the house every day this week:
a victory too tiring to articulate.

By then your favorite top will
have cycled through the wash.
I might wear it: an act of contrition
you will register but not understand.

NaPoWriMo: Caller ID, She Would (Probably) Have Dusted, Kei Miller

NaPoWriMo was a lot of fun. Here are a couple of my favourites from days 10-20.

Caller ID

She called me just before
she got on a boat, hi baby
it’s me, to tell me she was
getting on said boat and
might not have signal and

she loved me. Mostly asleep,
I thought it impolitic to interrupt
the moment to say I didn’t
have her number saved
or any idea who she was.

I can hold whole conversations
without waking. She called
me baby; for two minutes
I assumed she was Sally
drunk and with a new number.

Not-Sally was sorry for waking me.
She’d call when she got there.
(Where?) She loved me.
She loved me. I – love you too,
baby. Be safe for me, ok?

It seemed rude to not
love her. I wanted her safety.
She’d call me. She had to
go. Back to sleep now,
baby. She never called back.

When I tried I got a staticky
answerphone. Her name
was Tish, or maybe Trish.
I left a message. I couldn’t
tell you what it said.

She Would (Probably) Have Dusted

There are still wrappers
on both boxes of herbal tea.
She does own normal tea
but she’s got no milk in.

She doesn’t really
drink milk and it’s not
as though her ankle joints
were expecting anyone before
spring when everything eases and
she regains hospitality as long as her
hayfever doesn’t play up. Her visitor offers
to come back in spring. He could bring his own
milk, even, so as not to put her out? She says it’s fine –

I’ll open one of these. We can find out what echinacea tastes like
together. Haven’t you always wanted to know?

Kei Miller

Dad is reading Kei Miller.
            There is an alternate universe-me 
                        who did ballet instead of eating 
                                    and got really good at it.
Dad is reading Kei Miller because I told him to.
            There is an alternate-universe me 
                        who finished her physics degree, 
                                    did Teach First and got
                                                a job on a trading floor.
Dad is recommending Kei Miller to his friends. 
            Dancer-me has lush abs. 
                        No tattoos. Her girlfriend never 
                                    watches her perform. 
            Banker-me recommends dominatrices 
                        to her colleagues. Never discusses
                                    politics. Owns many 
                                                beautiful shoes.
This is the guy I was talking about yesterday. 
            They both read obsessively 
                        but neither of them 
                                    write all that much. 
The Cartographer - Anna recommended it.
            I reckon the three of us are roughly equally
                        happy, and roughly equally horrified
                                    at the thought of the other two
            but I’m the one you’re reading 
                        so what I say goes.
It’s a very beautiful book.

NaPoWriMo: Easier Said, Typicality and More

Hello! A couple of my favourite NaPoWriMo poems so far:

Easier Said

When he dissolves, know that traces 
remain on your fingertips. Absorb what 
you can - worrying about what escapes
will not increase your capacity to retain 
him. Try hard to voice the new things
you find you would have said to him.
Do not allow silence to grow 
where you still expect him, 
his memory dessicated.
Tell a friend
       /your diary
       /the cat
       /but someone. Voice what would 
have made him chuckle or sigh.
Discover what the universe does
differently with him dissolved in it.


Twist fingers together
into knots of missing points.
People are so difficult to
explain: irrational, unfair, blank

where they should shine
and bright where they
should dull themselves
into background.

Explain irrational, unfair, blank
rulebooks. Tell her it doesn’t work
like that, this woman who wants
more than she is wanted.

Witness Rachel Witness Amy

Pulled forward on your chair
Rachel, you sounded like bruise
recognising bruise. The microphone a scouring pad.
Amy in washing up gloves. Amy in fireproof gloves.
Amy telling you to breathe. Amy elbow-deep in your stomach.
Elbow-length gloves for birthing lambs. Or no gloves at all
– just clean hands. You looked like you needed.
You looked like you were given.

Rachel, I’ve seen women in audiences reach for you like that.
(The first time I saw you onstage Hannah had to cover
my body with her body to keep the sobs in.
You were elbow-deep in my stomach. I needed. I was given.)

I acknowledge that I don’t know whether being needed
is a weight on you, or if the cost of giving varies
dependent on who is taking. But I know that being onstage
can hide things from us. And just in case you haven’t seen,
I’ve seen. I’ve seen Black women who give and give and give,
gloves or no, Rachel, I’ve seen them pulled forward
towards you with the same expression on their faces.

The third poem was written for Rachel Nwokoro after we both attended an Amy León gig. Both of them are incredible and if you don’t know their stuff you should take a look.

You can read the rest of the month’s poems so far on Twitter.